About Me

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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Santa Excitement Gone Wrong...

This morning, at about 4 AM I heard Robby sneak out of his bedroom. I thought he was going to come to our room, which has been his usual pattern. When he didn't make the turn into our room, I listened harder to try to determine what he was doing. I assumed that the cookies were in danger!

I heard him start to cry. I immediately put on my leg and went running towards the sobbing. I found Robby lying under the Christmas tree, nearly inconsolable.

In the "Santa Excitement" Robby became confused with the time line of events. He thought that Santa was supposed to come last night. Through his tears he kept saying that he was a "good boy" and that Santa "forgot him."

It absolutely broke my heart. I scooped him up, gave him a cup of milk and tried to explain that Santa doesn't come until tonight. We need to go through an entire day, and when the sun goes to sleep and the moon comes out to play with the stars, Santa will come.

With his cheeks red and tear marked, he smiled and said, "Oh yeah. Santa come tonight. Promise Momom? Promise?" With my explanation accepted, Robby immediately walked back to his room and is now sound asleep.

I have been awake, thinking about my sweet little boy. I hope that I will be able to soothe all of his pain with a few words and a simple explanation. I think I'll take advantage of the quiet and wrap some gifts.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Attention Television Executives...

Robby has been delighted with the Christmas season. To him, the "abracadabra" lights decorating buildings and yards are simply magical. He loves baking cookies and decorating his tree. One of his favorite holiday perks has been his later bedtime.

I tend to be strict when it comes to Robby's bedtime. I like to put him in bed between 8:00 and 8:15. By the time 8:00 rolls around, I am exhausted and ready for a reprieve. Unfortunately, the executives at the major television networks must have later bedtimes for their children. The Christmas classic cartoons are not shown until 8:00.

By the time the "classic cartoon" is shown, I am exhausted. All I want to do is take my leg off, crawl into bed and relax. Now I am forced to contend with a toddler who is antsy because he is tired but excited to be allowed up past his bedtime.

We have all of the classics on DVD, and Robby has been watching them constantly. I suppose there is something special about cartoon being shown on television. In reality, it is more nostalgia for me. I remember the excitement as the holiday cartoons started to be shown on television. It was a very big deal in our family!

I can't be a Grinch. I have to let him stay awake to watch the show. I certainly don't want to deprive him of the childhood rite of passage! So we pop our popcorn, curl into bed and watch the cartoon.

I am a little worried that Robby is getting used to the later bedtime. Hopefully this is a habit I can undo after the holidays are over. In the meantime, I have been indulging in an extra cup of coffee (or two) in the morning. After all, I am in my 30's, but I admit I still get excited when Charlie Brown's Christmas is on television!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Amputee Airport Travel

I just wanted to write a quick note to inform my fellow amputees about a new step implemented by TSA in "major" airports.

Since my amputation I have learned that extra time is always required for me to maneuver through the security obstacles. Sometimes I breeze through security with little delay. More often than not, I encounter a delay usually because an employee is unfamiliar with the procedures concerning amputees.

I was traveling with my family during the past week. We arrived to the airport with ample time to get through security. If we had been running late, I am certain that the newest security procedure would have caused me to miss my plane.

In addition to all of the usual screening procedures (the wand, pat down and explosives test) I was directed to a machine located in the corner of the check point area. Apparently, at many major airports amputees are now having their prosthetics x-rayed. I had a total of six pictures taken (one on each side, one on the top of the foot and one on the bottom of the foot). The x-rays allow the screeners to see through the prosthetic to look for contraband materials.

I don't have an issue with the x-rays. I realize that, in today's fearful world, it is better to be cautious. However, the implementation of this technology certainly does require time. If you are an amputee and are traveling through a major airport (I encountered the machine at the Baltimore airport but not at the Columbus airport) be sure to leave plenty of time to clear security!

A Christmas I'll Never Forget...

Since Robby was born, the focus of Christmas has shifted in our family. Scott and I are now devoted to making the holiday memorable and happy for Robby. Yes, Santa will bring some pretty cool presents (if I do say so myself), but I have also flooded his days with crafts and holiday projects. Buying presents for each other is no longer a priority. Scott should be particularly grateful for the shift in focus!

Scott has many wonderful attributes. Picking out gifts is not one of his talents. I love him, but he has the romantic inclination of a slug.

I can't help but recall Christmas 2003. Much to Scott's chagrin, this holiday will never be forgotten. The events of this Christmas have been retold and have already been incorporated into the folklore of our family and friends.

2003 was a difficult year for me. It was the year of my amputation. By the time Christmas came around, I was physically recovered from the limb loss, but emotionally fragile. I desperately needed reassurance that, although I was missing my leg, I was still loved and desired.

Scott and I had been dating for three years. We had discussed marriage but mutually agreed that I should be recovered from the amputation before moving forward with our relationship. By December 2003 I had been walking for 6 weeks. I was getting stronger everyday. I needed something to look forward to. I was ready to get engaged.

We spent Christmas Day apart that year. I was at my mom's house and he was in Ohio. Scott and I exchanged gifts before he left, but per his request we each kept one gift back. He explained that he had a "special" gift that he wanted to give to me in Ohio in front of his family.

My mom, my cousins and I speculated all day about my ring. Surely I was going to receive a proposal the following day. We were all excited, and I was over the moon. For the first time since my amputation, I was seeing a ray of happiness. I was still loved and he still wanted to marry me despite my amputation.

I woke up early the next morning to fly to Ohio. After struggling through the airport with a painful residual limb, I was thrilled to see Scott waiting for me at baggage claim. After attending the obligatory family luncheon, I finally arrived at his mom's house. After exchanging pleasantries and holiday presents, it was time for our "special" gift exchange.

Scott emerged from the back bedroom carrying a small square box. It was wrapped with a red bow. I remember every detail of the presentation. After all, this was "my moment."

Scott was beaming as he handed me the box. My heart began to beat quickly, and I was pretty sure it could be heard across the room. My hands were shaking as I nervously unwrapped the paper...

A pedometer.

Yes, he bought me a pedometer--for someone who just had an amputation and was feeling fat and ugly. And he bought me a walking-oriented weight loss device. To this day, Scott is quick to point out that it was a very cool pedometer which could be hooked up to the internet so that my information could be uploaded. Only being in the presence of his mother kept me from telling him where to upload his pedometer!

Scott didn't realize that by giving me that pedometer he was actually providing a gift for all of my family and friends. Now, whenever someone receives a present that is deemed "inadequate" or "thoughtless," the giver can simply shrug and say, "Well, at least it isn't a pedometer."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Okay, I'm Talking About Sex

I would like to provide a disclaimer for the readers of this particular blog post. This post deals with a sensitive issue. I am writing about sex after an amputation. I want to be honest without being graphic.

After much debate and a discussion with Scott, I have decided that this needs to be openly addressed. I have received numerous emails from individuals who are struggling with the issue after their amputation. Many others are fearful of how their upcoming amputation may affect their sex life.

I am certainly no expert on the subject. I can, however, speak frankly about my experiences. Sometimes, merely validating fears can go a long way towards eliminating them. I thought I was the only amputee worried about intimacy. It wasn't until I started reaching out to help other "new"amputees that I discovered my fears about sex were universal for the amputee and his or her partner(s).

I was worried about how my amputation was going to impact my sex life before my amputation. Because it is a sensitive and personal issue, I did not feel comfortable broaching the topic with amputee mentors. I was left to deal with my fears and emotions on my own, which probably made my adjustment more difficult.

Before my amputation I assumed that I would wear my prosthetic during intercourse. I figured that I would feel more comfortable wearing the leg. I never envisioned that I would want to be intimate without a foot. I quickly changed my mind after I received my prosthetic and discovered how awkward and heavy the device is, especially when I am lying down.

It took nearly six months until I was "ready" after my amputation. This extended time was due to the infection in my stump but, in retrospect, was also because I was feeling ugly. I simply wasn't eager to be seen. For partners of the amputee, patience is imperative!

After my amputation it was difficult for me to look at my body. I assumed that it was difficult for Scott to look at me as well, but I have since learned otherwise. He loved me unconditionally and wasn't "turned off" because I happened to be missing a foot. The problem was, I turned myself off.

I didn't feel attractive and any sense of sensuality seemed to have evaporated. It took months before I could look in a mirror without tearing up. Scott knew that the lights were going to be off, and that any touching below my knee was NOT going to happen. I didn't want anything to remind me that I was now an amputee.

No, I didn't wear my prosthetic. I did wear my liner. I worried that my sensitive stump would get bumped somehow. The liner just made me feel more comfortable and safer. I suppose I felt more comfortable keeping my residual limb covered. We never discussed removing the liner. It was never an issue.

As my stump healed and my self-esteem recovered, I no longer needed to keep my stump covered. It was a natural and slow progression. I don't need to wear the liner anymore. If the liner is on, it is because of the spontaneity of the act versus my desire to keep my stump concealed.

People are often curious about how an amputee has sex. All I can say is that I have learned that a foot is not necessary for intercourse. An active and adventurous sex life after an amputation is possible, but every position may not be feasible. For example, sex in the shower has been completely eliminated. I have enough trouble balancing to wash my hair!

Keeping an open dialogue is paramount. I realized that it was up to me to let Scott know when I was feeling discomfort. He certainly doesn't want to hurt me. He was equally as nervous about causing me pain.

I have learned that laughter can go a long way to ease a tense situation. Scott and I laugh a lot, including when we are being intimate. After an amputation, some positions just don't "work" anymore. However our inability to recreate positions from our youthful escapades is probably due to our increasing age and decreasing flexibility as much as it is because of my amputation!

You really won't know until you try. Sometimes my stump hurts or gets pinched, so we simply change position. We have a lot of pillows to provide extra padding for my residual limb (and to reduce friction abrasions). And when a specific position doesn't work, instead of getting upset or frustrated, we just laugh it off.

Patience, love and open communication are the tools we needed to rebuild our sex life after my amputation. Just as my body changed for me, it has also changed for Scott. He admits that some positions feel "different." Because of my amputation, we laugh a lot more, and we talk more. Both of these are good things.

A brief note: My Mom, a retired English teacher, reads my blogs before they publish to fix my punctuation etc.. I was worried that she would feel uncomfortable reading a blog about such an intimate topic. Her reaction when I voiced my concerns? "Peggy, it may have been a long time ago, but I have performed the act. And I am constantly getting screwed." Love ya Mom!